I hope you don’t think worse of me, but I’ve never been upset by a celebrity’s death. A movie star wrecks a Porsche? A comedian commits suicide? Doesn’t seem to bother me at all. Not that I’m glad about it or don’t understand why their families are grieving, but I’ve got a lot more hurt a lot closer to home without worrying about someone else’s tragedy.
That’s why I was surprised at my sadness yesterday to find that Tom Magliozzi died. Tom and his brother Ray were the hosts of “Car Talk”, a nationally syndicated radio show on NPR. To my estimation, they were probably better known for their humor than mechanical skills, though both were abundant. They stopped recording new shows back in 2012. Tom apparently died from complications of Alzheimer’s.
It would be hard to guess at how many hours worth of Car Talk podcasts have kept me (and sometimes my longsuffering children) company on numerous road trips. So often they made the hours pass quickly and most times left me with a smile on my face. Even as I write today, my heart is strangely heavy at the loss of someone I’ve never known.
So I know it’s not terribly spiritual or theological, but here are some things Tom’s death has caused me to think:
I don’t think we can ever overestimate the power of humor, especially the kind that doesn’t hurt people.
I think that the cynicism of our society only serves to make the glee of simple jokes more special.
I think it’s beautiful when brothers love each other.
I think two are better than one.
I think someone’s ability to make fun of themselves and invite others to do the same is a sign of gentility and humility.
I think many mundane things – like car repair – can often be portals into some of the most wonderful and searching questions of life.
I think people who can talk to a stranger on the phone and hang up minutes later as friends are gifted people.
I think if someone’s work gives you a little bit of their joy, it’s only decent to say thank you.
Thanks, Tom & Ray. We’ll try not to drive like your brother.